Rats and other rodents like possums and mice are generally excluded from home insurance coverage. Home insurance is designed to protect your home and personal property from unexpected and accidental damage, and insurers typically view a rodent infestation as a preventable issue.
Insurance companies expect you to take care of maintenance issues and the general upkeep of your property, and since rat infestations usually don’t occur suddenly or overnight, they’re often viewed as a “wear and tear,” or maintenance issue by insurers. That’s true of any other pest infestation that happens over time, like termites or carpenter ants.
However, there are specific circumstances when home insurance might pay for damage caused by rats, like if a rat chews through the electrical wiring in your home and it results in an electrical fire. In that instance, home insurance may cover the fire damage to your home.
Does home insurance pay for rat damage or rat removal?
No, usually not. Rats aren’t something you want in your home, they can carry disease and may cause structural damage — they can chew through wood, drywall, sheetrock and more — but standard home insurance policies usually exclude coverage for damage caused by pests, rodents, and vermin.
That means if rats chew through your drywall, or infest your attic, you’re likely going to have to pay for the removal services yourself, as well as any repairs to your home. Home insurance also typically excludes rodent damage to your personal property, so if a rat chews through your TV wires or moves into your lawn mower, you’d likely be stuck footing the repair bills for that too.
When might home insurance cover rat damage?
Home insurance will help cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home after a house fire, because fires are a covered peril. Rats can be the underlying cause of a house fire if they chew through the electrical wires in your home.
That means that home insurance may cover the fire or smoke damage to your home if rats cause an electrical fire, since the damage was caused by the fire, not the rats themselves. If the rat damage to your electrical wires results in short-circuit damage, depending on your policy, home insurance may cover the cost of repairs if the short-circuit damage also results in a fire.
Home insurance may cover rat removal if you can prove that the infestation was caused by a separate covered peril (insurers refer to this as proximate cause). For example, if a windstorm damages your roof and leaves your attic exposed and rats crawl in, then insurance may help pay for the rat removal and repairs to your roof from the wind damage, since wind is a covered peril.
Is pest control covered by home insurance?
No, homeowners insurance typically does not cover the cost of pest control services, exterminators, or pest removal services. Home insurers consider pest infestations to be a preventable maintenance issue, so pest control and extermination costs will have to come out of your own pocket.
How to prevent rat damage in your home
Rats and other rodents are a common risk to homeowners, especially during the winter months when they’re looking for a warm and safe place to live. There are several precautions you can take to prevent rats from moving into your house.
Check your attic and basement. Rats typically leave droppings when traveling from place to place. Make sure to periodically check your attic or basement for rat droppings. Rats are more likely to go undetected in spaces of your home that you don’t frequently use.
Keep your home uncluttered. Rats and other rodents usually like clutter because it gives them protection. It’s also harder to find signs of a rat infestation if your home is cluttered.
Properly store your food. If your food is securely stored in containers, it will be harder for rats to sniff it out.
Seal any holes or crevices. Rats can sneak into your home through even the tiniest of crevices. If you see any openings in your walls, windows, or floorboards, make sure to seal them ASAP.
Repellents and humane traps. There are plenty of natural repellents you can spray around your home to prevent an infestation, as well as humane, non-kill traps.
If you suspect you have a rat infestation, it’s best to call a professional. Professional pest removal services will know the best and safest way to remove the rats from your home.